Serial killer fan and boyfriend who murdered woman in ‘flat of horrors’ jailed

A couple who murdered a woman after she was lured to a ‘flat of horrors’ have been sentenced to life in prison.

Julia Rawson met Nathan Maynard-Ellis by chance last May in Dudley’s Bottle and Cork pub.

The 30-year-old invited her back to his flat in Tipton, which had swords and spiders mounted on the walls and reptiles in tanks.

In the flat, Maynard-Ellis and boyfriend David Leesley, 25, dismembered her body after killing her and dumped it on waste ground.

The 42-year-old was reported missing on May 14 last year.

Two weeks later her killers were arrested.

After 47 days of extensive searching, officers discovered Julia’s remains wrapped in black material.

They had been packaged carefully, a skill Maynard-Ellis learned from stomach-churning videos he liked to watch.

The killing “was the culmination of years of pent-up fantasy and desire” by Maynard-Ellis, a portly, bearded individual obsessed with horror movies and serial killers.

His partner Leesley was found guilty of murder at the Coventry Crown Court trial earlier this year.

Sentencing the pair today at Warwick Crown Court, Mr Justice Soole said: “You met Julia Rawson, who was a complete stranger, in the Bottle and Cork and tragically she entered into a conversation with you.

“Sometime that evening after arriving at your flat in Mission Drive, Tipton, you killed her and dismembered her body.

“You then undertook a comprehensive task to hide you acts – including the lying to the police.

“Only you know what happened in that flat but you have not revealed.”

He added: “You fantasised about serial killers. I’m sure that when you got into the taxi with Julia you formed an intent to kill her.”

The judge sentenced him to life with a minimum of 30 years.

Leesley was also jailed for life, with a minimum is 19 years.

Following the trial Detective Inspector Jim Colclough, from the West Midlands force’s homicide team, said: “All murders are tragic, but Julia’s death and the way she was treated after was despicable.

“Many of the sickening and tragic details of this case have come out during the court trial.

“We’ve given a detailed account of how we were able to find Julia so her family could bury her and bring Maynard-Ellis and Leesley to justice for the heinous crime they committed.”

Maynard-Ellis was caught on CCTV leisurely enjoying a drink in a pub just hours after he killed Julia.

The footage shows Nathan appearing to be in high spirits as he chatted at the Fountain Inn, in Tipton, at around 9.30pm on May 12, 2019.

Standing casually at the bar, his long hair neatly pulled back into a ponytail, there were no outward signs of the horror he had just inflicted on his victim.

COLD-BLOODED KILLER SPOTTED IN PUB HOURS AFTER MURDER

West Midlands Police said the killers had two weeks to clear the crime scene of evidence.

They were said to have burned their blood-stained clothes at the home of Maynard-Ellis’ mother.

The ‘flat of horrors’ reportedly contained dozens of knives, saws, axes and other bladed articles but one of the weapons was said to have been missing from the flat when it was searched by cops.

Karim Khalil QC, prosecuting, told the court the sadistic killers did not panic after the killing and even ordered new carpet and underlay from Carpet Right.

They were also said to have continued about their daily lives – with Leesley even attending work at the Co-op.

Julia ran a pagan shop in Dudley and “saw the good in everyone”, one friend said after her death.

Together with best friend and former partner Elaine, she manned a stall at Dudley Market selling pagan artefacts before the pair opened their own shop, Phoenix, in the Fountain Arcade.

“She was a lovely character,” said Norma Dewolf, who first met Julia at the Dudley Moot, a monthly meet-up for pagans.

“If there was something she didn’t like she would tell you.

“Some people would try and put it diplomatically, but she would just say it straight.

“She was the sort of person that if you asked, ‘does my bum look big in this?’ she would tell you ‘yes’ if it did.”

Norma added: “She loved life and she was friendly to everyone. She would always be the centre of attention.

“I think she could be too trusting and that was her downfall. She saw the good in everyone.”

Mitigating in court today, David Mason said that Maynard-Ellis had been to hospital four times since being jailed with Covid-19.

The lawyer said: “He has two blood clots on the lung and has been taking anticoagulants.

“He has been in self-isolation in prison for six weeks – without his things since his conviction.

“Despite what this man has done – this is inhumane.”

Tom Forster, defending Lesley, told Mr Justice Stoole the 25-year-old did not show any premeditation during the murder of Julia Rawson.